Join 3,381 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Trans Student Must Be Allowed to Use Girls' Restroom
June 23, 2013 5:02 PM   Subscribe

In December 2012, school district officials informed the family of Coy Mathis, a girl who was assigned male at birth, that she would no longer be allowed to use the girls' bathrooms at school. The Mathis family filed suit. Today, they won.

In a decision the New York Times calls "sharply worded," the Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled that the Fountain-Fort Carson school district's decision to bar Coy Mathis from using the girls' restrooms "creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating or offensive."

Since 2008, Colorado has extended civil rights to transgendered individuals, specifically including the right to use gender-segregated facilities such as locker rooms and bathrooms without having to prove gender identity.

The complete ruling can be read here (pdf).

TransYouth Family Allies has links to resources and FAQs on trans and gender variant children and adolescents.

Juliet Banana's useful Trans 101 links: 1 2

Previously on MetaFilter.
posted by not that girl (50 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
(Broken link, I think: NYT article should end with .html not .htm?)
posted by mixing at 5:06 PM on June 23, 2013


fuck yes! it seemed so obvious that the school was breaking the law and i'm so glad that the courts saw it the same way. part of the fight is getting laws passed to explicitly protect certain groups, but maybe even a bigger part is getting those laws enforced. colorado is looking saner and saner all the time from my seat over here in oklahoma.
posted by nadawi at 5:09 PM on June 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


Thanks, mixing, I pinged the mods.
posted by not that girl at 5:10 PM on June 23, 2013


Good to hear.
posted by spitbull at 5:10 PM on June 23, 2013


As much as I think the parents could've handled this differently - respected their child's privacy a bit better, for example - this is indeed a great decision.
posted by item at 5:12 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


[fixed link!]
posted by restless_nomad at 5:20 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


i'm not sure how you respect your kid's privacy when the school is flagrantly breaking the law like this. the parents are awesome for standing up for coy (and showing her early that some fights are worth fighting and that they'll support her every time). if the school suddenly told you that your child had to start using the opposite gender bathroom or the nurse's bathroom because they suddenly became interested in what was in your child's underwear, i think most would fight that fight.
posted by nadawi at 5:21 PM on June 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


Well, for one when you're doing your media blitz you keep your kid off of every morning program, unlike these parents did. I remember seeing the parents bring the little girl out on CNN and MSNBC, appearances they easily could have made by themselves without exposing their young child to millions of prying eyes.
posted by item at 5:27 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is great. Grats to Coy, grats to Coy's parents, and grats to everybody positively affected by this.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:30 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


item: "Well, for one when you're doing your media blitz you keep your kid off of every morning program, unlike these parents did. I remember seeing the parents bring the little girl out on CNN and MSNBC, appearances they easily could have made by themselves without exposing their young child to millions of prying eyes."

It is unlikely they would have been able to file suit without their names coming out. Given that, it is probably much better to control how you appear in the media as much as possible and one way to do that is to go on news programs.

What practical, concrete alternatives did they have?
posted by hoyland at 5:33 PM on June 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


What practical, concrete alternatives did they have?

They could have appeared on the news programs by themselves without exposing their young child to yet additional levels of scrutiny, for starters.
posted by item at 5:40 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's possible that the child loved the attention. Children get almost VIP treatment on these sets.
posted by Brocktoon at 5:43 PM on June 23, 2013


[if this thread is going to stay open, it needs to not become a repeat of the previous threads on the issue. That means we need to skip the major 101-level derails. Feel free to search for the earlier threads is you need to catch up.]
posted by restless_nomad at 5:49 PM on June 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


This is really quite badass. A very good thing to read before bed :)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:51 PM on June 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Look, my annoyance here has nothing to do with the topic of the issue at hand. For the record, I'm about as transpositive as possible, mostly stemming from having a FTM roommate at a really impressionable age, but also because my social politics are and always have been across-the-board progressive, leaning on and usually crossing over into radical territory.

I felt that the parents handled the interviews I saw in a pretty awkward manner by bringing their girl out and placing her in front of the cameras. You and everyone else might think otherwise, and that's fine, but it's definitely not how I would have suggested a friend or family member handle the situation, in the way-off and 99.9999% unlikely chance I would've been asked. I'm really just not a fan of exposing children to that kind of intense media and public scrutiny face-to-face, especially not when the topic is as controversial as this one is.

I have noting but good feelings about the way this turned out and, other than the above mentioned issue with the interviews, how the parents handled it. That's all I have to say on the matter, as my leftist ass has a big batch of vegan chili that needs attending to and, following that, eating.
posted by item at 5:53 PM on June 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


They could have appeared on the news programs by themselves without exposing their young child to yet additional levels of scrutiny, for starters.

It's likely that having Coy on the program made the media coverage more sympathetic. It's much harder to be horrible about a kid you've met. Her parents are bound to be perfectly aware that she's going to be able to see the coverage when she's older. Minimising the horrible things said about her is surely their priority.

It's within the realm of possibility they made the wrong decision. Clearly they made a decision you wouldn't have made. I don't know if it's the decision I would have made and I suspect that's the same for the overwhelming majority of us, who haven't been in such a situation. But it's pretty easy to see how they would entirely reasonably conclude it was the best option.
posted by hoyland at 5:55 PM on June 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


Good news. Nice to see the state of my birth coming so far since the dark days of Amendment 2.
posted by ambrosia at 6:13 PM on June 23, 2013


Seven months is a long time to be holding it in.
posted by Nomyte at 6:17 PM on June 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Agreeing with hoyland here about the parents' decision to involve Coy in media. Given all of the positive decisions that they've made on behalf of their kid, I would rather give them the benefit of the doubt and say that their decision to subject Coy to the media was very well informed. If they're such fantastic parents that they're willing to go so far to set this amazing of an example of how Coy shouldn't have to take shit from anyone about her identity from the very start, I have a hard time believing that they aren't acting in the best interests of their kid in regards to media exposure as well.
posted by Conspire at 6:18 PM on June 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Fantastic news for Coy and her family. I hope we get to see a good many more stories that end up as well as this.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:20 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am super happy for Coy, and proud of Colorado for setting this wonderful precedent to enforce their own non-discrimation law. :-) Coy and her family are definitely very brave for being as public as they have been, and I think it's done an enormous amount of good not only for public education, but for the trans children that will follow Coy.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:29 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is great, I remember the last time we discussed Coy's case. Thank you for the update, not that girl.

As for having Coy in front of the cameras: her life is already documented by the media. Any google search of her name will probably bring up this court case for the rest of her life. If you're worried about the effects of media attention on her life, I don't see how having her speak on camera will make things much worse.
posted by mokin at 6:34 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Portland, Ore., To Require Gender-Neutral Bathrooms
posted by Artw at 6:36 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hope similar rulings follow for other states. Minnesota's rules on bathroom use, for example, are unclear. ("The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that even a law prohibiting gender identity discrimination does not necessarily protect an individual's desire to use a gender identity-appropriate restroom at work," says this ACLU page.)
posted by jiawen at 6:37 PM on June 23, 2013


I was very happy to see this news earlier today. Also very glad that she has such awesome parents who were willing to fight for her like this.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:43 PM on June 23, 2013


Fantastic. gingerbeer showed me the news as we were sitting in the Castro theater, waiting for the Q&A to begin after the world premier of the documentary about Divine. Good for you, Colorado, and good on Coy's parents for fighting the fight.
posted by rtha at 6:53 PM on June 23, 2013


Yes! Way to teach a kid to stand up for their rights and the rights of others. Some parents wouldn't have had the guts to buck the system. These parents rock.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:01 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am also happy to report that AB 1266, the California bill introduced by my Assemblymember to ensure that trans kids have access to bathrooms and school activities (such as sports teams) appropriate for their lived gender, has passed the Assembly and the Senate Education Cmte, and is now on the Senate floor awaiting a vote.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:01 PM on June 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


both this ruling and the portland link are pretty great
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:18 PM on June 23, 2013


"I am also happy to report that AB 1266, the California bill introduced by my Assemblymember to ensure that trans kids have access to bathrooms and school activities (such as sports teams) appropriate for their lived gender, has passed the Assembly and the Senate Education Cmte, and is now on the Senate floor awaiting a vote."

It's really close right now, and its scheduling depends on attendance, i.e. getting all of the supporting senators to the floor at the same time. Optimistic, but we're getting a hellacious pushback from "Gender Insanity" sort of stuff. PCI are a buncha jaggovs.

posted by klangklangston at 8:02 PM on June 23, 2013


I'm for gender-neutral bathrooms, but would like all of the users to be careful about their aim. (The ones at the local community centre seem to always have a little extra moisture on the seats; don't know whether it's standers or hoverers, but we all need to take care).

Also: awesome for Coy, wonderful news.
posted by jb at 9:22 PM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


If my friend and I ever carry out our pipe-dream of running a private library it is going to have single washrooms with signs that read something like "Humans", "Folks", "Any", and "Other" in case we somehow missed someone with the above.
posted by Canageek at 10:06 PM on June 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would say this is fantastic news (and in a sense it is) but really, it's fucking tragic that this needed to go to court and take as long as it did simply in order to have Coy's school comply with the fucking law. A girl using the girls' room should not be this controversial.
posted by Dysk at 12:42 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the future is omni bathrooms, but will they have urinals? I can't decide if it reduces the options of the sitters or if it diverts standers through a faster channel to that the sitters come out even or ahead.
posted by michaelh at 1:18 AM on June 24, 2013


I think the future is omni bathrooms

Yeah but no. In this context, that might seem to be a fudge - as though we're still a little unhappy acknowledging eg Coy's gender and would feel more comfortable if we could set up a situation where the need to do so doesn't arise.

Also, you know, I think women are entitled to one place where they cannot be followed by leering men. Is the chance to take a shit in peace too much to ask?
posted by Segundus at 1:43 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


omni bathrooms

Not their best issue. I'm glad they went back to sci-fi the next month.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:19 AM on June 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


This kind of win by parents happened very recently in my hometown in Australia. Nice work, humanity.
posted by chronic sublime at 2:38 AM on June 24, 2013


The arc of the moral universe may be long but its always awesome to catch its natural bent towards justice in clear view.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:37 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah but no. In this context, that might seem to be a fudge - as though we're still a little unhappy acknowledging eg Coy's gender and would feel more comfortable if we could set up a situation where the need to do so doesn't arise.

Also, you know, I think women are entitled to one place where they cannot be followed by leering men. Is the chance to take a shit in peace too much to ask?


You're right that skipping straight to promoting gender neutral bathrooms as the solution is a cop out. However, I attended a (large) university where the majority of dorms had gender neutral bathrooms. There are thousands of people out there who have lived in those dorms who will, I think, virtually uniformly tell you it was no big deal. I am at a university now with a multi-user gender neutral bathroom. Yes, people have had unpleasant experiences relating to that bathroom... gender non-conforming people, who were hassled because they were seen as 'too masculine' to use it. Of course, you could be followed into any bathroom, regardless of its signage. In a low traffic bathroom, the sign on the door won't matter. In a high traffic bathroom, the other people there are what's protecting you, not the sign.
posted by hoyland at 4:48 AM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is really great news. It would be best if authorities did the right thing in the first place and the courts weren't needed but at least things ended well. I love to see any instance of transphobia be defeated.
posted by samuelcramer at 5:16 AM on June 24, 2013


Segundus, maybe institutions could keep one or two segregated bathrooms around for celebrating these victories and to continue creating these situations. That would address both your concerns, right?
posted by michaelh at 6:11 AM on June 24, 2013


Gender neutral bathrooms might solve the issue Coy faced but I can tell you from experience that most women in American get pretty wigged-out about them. My wife and I just returned from vacation in Europe and most of the toilets were gender neutral which meant a lot less waiting in line for her but a lot more "moisture" on the toilet seats. A few had urinals in the common area where the sinks are and that thoroughly freaked my wife out. I saw no issue with it but that's just how I roll.

But anyway, good for Coy and great for CO.
posted by photoslob at 8:03 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, you know, I think women are entitled to one place where they cannot be followed by leering men.

How about that one place be called "The Whole Universe"?
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:36 AM on June 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


For what it's worth, I'd like to renounce the views I espoused in the previously link.

There are people whose internal image of themselves quite clearly includes a penis, but every time they step in the shower they find a vagina. And, of course, there are people who find a penis when they expect a vagina.

I grew up in a small city in Vermont... or, more accurately, a small town near enough to a small city as makes no matter. I had no first-hand experience of any transsexual or transvestite as a child, but read in the local paper the yearly dispatches from the gay pride parades in larger cities, which related (in a bemused tone) stories of gays wearing bondage gear and men in drag shouting slogans like "we're here, we're queer, we're not going anywhere."

I was left, I think, with the mistaken impression that cross-dressing was something that people do for sexual jollies. I'm not trying to use this to excuse my opinions in the previously link; I left that small town/city twelve years ago, and my beliefs have changed considerably since then. What I am doing is addressing what follows to those who think as I did... or perhaps even to those who once thought as I did. I know that when I left the fundamentalist faith of my youth behind, it took years longer to reevaluate the corresponding judgements of abortion and homosexuality in itself.

There are no doubt some who wear opposite-gendered clothing only for sexual gratification, and otherwise identify as the gender their genitalia would indicate. Some people get off wearing diapers, for goodness sake... so getting off by wearing panties isn't outside the realm of possibility. This alone, however, does not explain trans-people who choose to live full-time by their identity, rather than birth gender, and date and couple as their identity dictates. These people risk violence and death at the hands of the intolerant merely by living their lives.

I ask you: if it were merely a matter of sexual gratification, do you really think these trans-people would endanger themselves so? If it were me, and the impetus for wearing women's clothing was as simple as sexual gratification, I think I'd rather just stay home, watch pornography, and... take care of it manually, if you get my drift.

But wait! There's more!

There are people in this world who experience such psychological pain from the mismatch between their genitalia and identity that they would trade a perfectly functional set of equipment (which I assume at least has the capacity to give them pleasure) for something no more sensitive than an arm. Do you believe that sexual gratification has a role in that? There are no doubt more who simply live with their birth genitalia, and try to cope with the pain.

Regardless, why would you ask these men and women to jump through any more onerous hoops than necessary to live their lives? You might as well ask an amputee to ambulate on one leg.

(Apologies if incoherent; working on a severe, unavoidable sleep deficit.)
posted by The Confessor at 10:23 AM on June 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


For what it's worth, I'd like to renounce the views I espoused in the previously link.
Thank you, for this. It is appreciated.
posted by yeoz at 10:50 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


If my friend and I ever carry out our pipe-dream of running a private library it is going to have single washrooms with signs that read something like "Humans", "Folks", "Any", and "Other" in case we somehow missed someone with the above.

My bathrooms would be split between "Chatty Cretins" and "Quiet Civilized People" and the stall walls and doors would go ALL THE WAY FLOOR TO CEILING DAMMIT
posted by FatherDagon at 11:08 AM on June 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


I called it back in February...I love it when I'm right!
posted by KillaSeal at 11:38 AM on June 24, 2013


HOBO SANCTUARY
posted by Artw at 1:30 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Janet Mock Talks Transgender Advocacy -- Writer and social justice activist Janet Mock stops by HuffPost Live for Pride Week to talk about transgender advocacy, her "Girl's Like Us" campaign and more!
posted by yeoz at 9:12 PM on June 29, 2013


FatherDagon, et al.: I meant one sink and one toilet, with lockable door, per bathroom. Much less space efficient, but eliminates all privacy and gender concerns, so perfect for a library.
posted by Canageek at 11:14 PM on June 29, 2013


« Older The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola's fifth feature film...  |  The end of Summer 2013 should ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments